U. S. House of Representatives member William L. (Bill) Jenkins gave the keynote address, advising graduates to draw upon the strengths of their ancestors to help them find success in the present.
“The world ahead, I’m sure you know, is about rights and responsibilities and the resolution of issues in a manner that insures our future,” Jenkins said. “I’m afraid as the world gets smaller, it contracts your rights as it expands your responsibilities.”
He noted a number of responsibilities currently facing the nation, among them the question of Social Security, the strain of illegal immigration, the threat to intellectual property, the methamphetamine epidemic and rising health care costs.
“Your generation will meet and overcome all these challenges, just like our ancestors met and overcame the challenges of their day,” Jenkins told graduates, advising them to meet disappointments and dangers with a “Winston Churchill-type of optimism.”
“If we adopt the faith and perseverance of our forefathers, it will see us through 230 more years of freedom and opportunity and success. Then, far in the future, another class can graduate from Tennessee Tech with these prospects intact,” he concluded.
Saturday’s commencement exercises brought the number of TTU graduates since 1915 to more than 61,000. The university’s newest alumni represented 13 states including Tennessee, 59 Tennessee counties and five foreign countries.
Degrees were awarded in 27 undergraduate fields of study and 18 graduate fields. Seven Doctor of philosophy degrees were conveyed —five in exceptional learning and two in engineering.
During commencement, President Bob Bell recognized a special group of students from Dohto University, TTU’s sister institution in Japan, who recently completed a three-week study tour to campus.
Earlier in the day, three military science students in Saturday’s graduating class received commissions as second lieutenants. Those students were Christopher G. Hampton, who earned a degree in industrial technology; Mark K. Tyree, who earned a degree in interdisciplinary studies; and Shaun M. Young, who earned a degree in management information systems.